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Shih Tzu puppies are filled with personality. They are adorable and easy to love. Your Shih Tzu could entertain you all day with his antics and affection. But when it comes to training, he could be a tad bit stubborn. He’ll learn basic commands and fun tricks, but prepared to repeat commands several times before he bothers to care. Easy tricks should come with a huge price in the form of a delicious treat reward and lots of time training. When you start training your Shih Tzu easy tricks, he’ll start to see just how fun and rewarding learning can be and building new tricks will become easier.
Easy tricks are the best place to start with your puppy. Starting with the 'sit' command and building up to fun, simple tricks is a great place to start with basic training for your Shih Tzu. He will have fun, build his cuteness skills, and learn a few things too.
Don’t let anyone convince you your sweet Shih Tzu is too stubborn to train. That’s not true. Positive reward training works great for Shih Tzu pups because they are motivated by enticing rewards. But to keep your Shih Tzu engaged enough to learn even the simplest of tricks, he’ll need redirection as well. You’ll need to show him the opposite consequence if he doesn’t do the trick. If his rewards are not enticing enough, up the ante with some dried liver or tiny bits of cut up steak. Your Shih Tzu puppy will work for food. Start simple trick training as early as you can. Let your little guy know just how boring life can be without fun tricks. Start with one trick and repeat it several times before moving onto the next trick. This could take weeks.
In order to train even easy tricks, your Shih Tzu will need quiet and short training sessions with you. Make these free of distractions and keep them short so you can keep your fuzzball’s attention. Don’t forget those highly rewarding treats to entice as well as encourage him to keep learning. If you need to keep your little guy focused and in one place for training, you can place him on a leash to have better control over him.
The High Fives Method
Have your Shih Tzu sit and give him a treat for obeying this command.
Show your Shih Tzu a second treat by holding it up near his nose but do not allow him to have it. Move it slightly out of his reach.
Give your Shih Tzu the command "high five" and touch one of his paws with the hand holding the treat.
Your Shih Tzu's nose will likely follow your hand to his paw because you have a treat. Move your hand away and tap his paw again. After a tap, your Shih Tzu will likely lift up his paw.
Once your Shih Tzu has his paw off the ground, gently tickle it with your fingers to get it to lift higher.
Say the command "high five" one more time. And after tickling his paw once his paw touches your hand in a high-five motion, give him that treat.
Practice a lot
This is an easy trick for your Shih Tzu to learn, but he's going to need some practice and lots of repetition. With practice, you should be able to say the command to 'high-five' and he should lift up his paw and tap it to your hand, expecting the treat once he does so.
The Obedience Commands Method
The easiest tricks to teach your Shih Tzu are going to be the few basic obedience commands. These commands will be 'sit', 'down', 'stay', 'come', and basic leash training. Choose how you're going to train your Shih Tzu, whether positive reward with treats or clicker reward training methods.
The 'sit' command is the easiest command to train. Stand in front of your Shih Tzu, hold a treat over his nose, and slowly move the treat back behind his head. As your little guy lifts up his chin to follow the treat back with his nose and eyes in hopes of earning it, he will likely sit down. When he does this, give him the reward of a click and treat or just the treat you have in your hand if you are not clicker training.
Ask your Shih Tzu to sit then entice him to lie down. To do this, take a treat and put it down towards the ground then pull it away from your pup. His nose and mouth will likely follow. In order to reach the treat, he will lie down, stretching his front paws forward and laying his belly and chest to the ground. When he does this, say the command "down" and give him the treat.
Ask your Shih Tzu to sit. Give him a treat for obeying this command. Take a step back away from your pup and say the word "stay". If he stays for a moment while you step away from him, quickly come back and give him a reward. Practice this several times taking steps farther away from him as you train.
If your Shih Tzu learns the 'stay' command, he's going to need to know how to be released from that position. To do this you need to teach him to come. To teach this, say his name and show him a treat. If you need to lean forward to get the treat closer to his nose feel free to do this at first. Say the command "come" and as soon as he gets up to come to you give him the treat. Repeat this often with the command and the reward.
Your Shih Tzu is going to require lots of time training on the leash if you expect him to have leash manners. Put him on a leash, go for a short walk together, even if it's simply inside your home, and give him lots of rewards as long as he's behaving well on the leash. This is positive reward-based training. Practice a lot and reward good behavior.
The Dance Method
Dancing might be an advanced trick for most dogs. Your Shih Tzu, however, dances all the time automatically. It's just not considered a trick until you recognize it. This also means you need to reward when your Shih Tzu is dancing.
Have your Shih Tzu sit by holding a treat up over his nose then and then slowly moving it back towards his tail. He will likely sit just to follow the treat with his nose. When he does, say the command "sit" and give him the treat he's earned.
Hold a treat up over your Shih Tzu's head and use a command such as "dance". Lift the treat up higher, encouraging him to stretch up on his hind legs.
As your Shih Tzu rises up taller, give him a treat but be prepared with another treat to get him to move in a dancing position.
With the second treat, move it side to side and back and forth or in a circular motion to get your Shih Tzu to dance.
With practice, your Shih Tzu can stay up on his back paws for a long period of time. Be sure to offer different treats to get him to move in different ways, circling, going backward, forward, or even side to side in a dancing formation.
With lots of practice, your Shih Tzu should be able to dance on command going in all the directions you have taught him. Be sure to give him treats throughout his dance to keep him going.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 03/14/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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